PPB June 2022

There’s also a renewed demand for classic toys. In late October, The Washington Post reported that sales for the Tonka Mighty Dump Truck had increased by more than 250% year-over-year. Parents are relying on familiar toys, reflecting on their own childhoods for inspiration. In 2020, Care Bears had one of their most profitable Christmas seasons ever, selling 1.5 million—three times as many as expected. But, to find the newest toys, kids are watching unboxings on YouTube. Unboxing videos are exactly what they sound like: You watch someone open a box and wait for them to tell you all about it. As of 2018, 81% of parents with children 11 or younger let their kids watch YouTube. The most popular unboxing videos target kids, like Ryan’s World. According to Pew Research, videos with kids average almost three times as many views as other types of videos frompopular channels, focusing mostly on toys or games. These unboxing videos recreate the thrill of opening a new toy or game. Adults enjoy these videos, too. According to YouTube data, the amount of time people have spent watching unboxing videos just on their phones is equivalent to watching the holiday classic Love Actually more than 20 million times. Toy companies are now creating more “surprise” toys. With surprise or blind-box packaging, toys are boxed or wrapped in such a way that children cannot see what is inside until they open it. The L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls lead the way, creating an unwrapping experience with each surprise accessory. The New York Times called the L.O.L. dolls ‘the dopamine hit of a generation.’ According tomarket research firmNPDGroup, L.O.L. dolls are outpacing the sales of Barbie, Pokémon, Nerf and Marvel action figures. Its products are evenmore popular than Star Wars toys. But these products aren’t all fun and games. As kids get older, their old toys become lost and forgotten—often in landfills. Think Toy Story 3. By 2023, the toy industry alone is on track to produce more than 1 million tons of plastic waste annually, according tomedia company Ozy. Plastic toys, inexpensive and vibrantly colored, take up 90% of the toy market, according to a plastics magazine. But very few toys can actually be recycled. Most toys are made from a combination of plastic, wood and metal which aren’t accepted by recycling companies. A recent The Kidult Today, more adults are buying toys for themselves. According to Mailchimp, about 70% of Millennials, ages 25 to 40, bought themselves a toy to fill downtime in 2020. Adults have been playing with toys for a while, except they were called ‘collectibles.’ Remember the Beanie Baby craze? Now, toy companies are catering to adults who love to play with toys. In 2020, LEGO started an 18+ adult LEGO section, and the company has identified a market in dedicated Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL). Today, 20% of sales are going to adults who buy for themselves. Tormod Askildsen, Head of AFOL Engagement, said in a statement, “AFOLs are mainly a group of people who discovered the true joy of building LEGO as kids. And I believe that among all the kids who have received a LEGO set and played with LEGO bricks, I think the experience connects with some of them more than the others.” For adults, playing with toys is nostalgic, which is good for coping with stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects nearly 40 million adults, or 18% of the U.S. population. The pandemic has worsened these rates. According to the World Health Organization, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25% in the first year of the pandemic. To cope with these feelings, adults are leaning on toys to de-stress. According to The Guardian, one in three adults cuddle up with stuffed animal every night for emotional support. Adults are unlikely to part with their favorite teddy, too. A survey conducted by Build-A-Bear in 2017 found that 56% of respondents have owned (and held onto) their favorite stuffed animal for more than two decades, and 72% said they plan to keep their stuffed animal forever. Be sure to remind your clients: Adults want toys, too. Lewis Tse Pui Lung / shutterstock.com | JUNE 2022 | 45 GROW